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The Letters of Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford — Volume 3 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 890 pages of information about The Letters of Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford Volume 3.

Letter 272 To John Chute, Esq.  Paris, Oct. 3, 1765. (page 429)

I don’t know where you are, nor when I am likely to hear of you.  I write it random, and, as I talk, the first thing that comes into my pen.

I am, as you certainly conclude, much more amused than pleased.  At a certain time of life, sights and new objects may entertain one, but new people cannot find any place in one’s affection.  New faces with some name or other belonging to them, catch my attention for a minute—­I cannot say many preserve it.  Five or six of the women that I have seen already are very sensible.  The men are in general much inferior, and not even agreeable.  They sent us their best, I believe, at first, the Duc de Nivernois.  Their authors, who by the way are every where, are worse than their own writings, which I don’t mean as a compliment to either.  In general, the style of conversation is solemn, pedantic, and seldom animated, but by a dispute.  I was expressing my aversion to disputes Mr. Hume, who very gratefully admires the tone of Paris, having never known any other tone, said with great surprise, “Why, what do you like, if you hate both disputes and whisk?” What strikes me the most upon the whole is, the total difference of manners between them and us, from the greatest object to the least.  There is not the smallest similitude in the twenty-four hours.  It is, obvious in every trifle.  Servants carry their lady’s train, and put her into her coach with their hat on.  They walk about the streets in the rain with umbrellas to avoid putting on their hats — driving themselves in open chaises in the country without hats, in the rain too, and yet often wear them in a chariot in Paris when it does not rain.  The very footmen are powdered from the break of day, and yet wait behind their master, as I saw the Duc of Praslin’s do, with a red pocket handkerchief about their necks.  Versailles, like every thing else, is a mixture of parade and poverty, and in every instance exhibits something most dissonant from our manners.  In the colonnades, upon the staircases, nay in the antechambers of the royal family, there are people selling all sorts of wares.  While we were waiting in the Dauphin’s sumptuous bedchamber, till his dressing-room door should be opened, two fellows were sweeping it, and dancing about in sabots to rub the floor.

You perceive that I have been presented.  The Queen took great notice of me; none of the rest said a syllable.  You are let into the King’s bedchamber just as he has put on his shirt; he dresses and talks good-humouredly to a few, glares at strangers, goes to mass—­to dinner, and a-hunting.  The good old Queen, who is like Lady Primrose in the face, and Queen Caroline in the immensity of her cap, is at her dressing-table, attended by two or three old ladies, who are languishing to be in Abraham’s bosom, as the only man’s bosom to whom they

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